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Delta’s 767-400ER made a nice option for my recent flight from Atlanta to Lima. The Pros: Delta’s commitment to cuisine and its friendly flight attendant culture. The Cons: The carrier’s fleet of long-haul 767s has started to feel outdated.
After not flying with Delta consistently for several years, I was looking forward to testing out its Delta One business-class seats aboard a 767 on my recent trip to Peru.
Back in October, Delta was offering some great business-class fares from Los Angeles to Lima, Peru, via Atlanta that started at around $1,300. Fares for similar itineraries usually start at about twice that amount, and since I had a few things I wanted to do in Peru, I decided to book myself a ticket.
My flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta would actually be on another long-haul aircraft, a 777-200LR, which Delta flies from Los Angeles to Sydney, while my flight from Atlanta to Lima would be aboard one of the airline’s 767-400ERs.
The total came to $1,299.50 with the domestic portions booking into P (first) class and the international legs into Z (business) class. If I had credited my flights to Delta, I would have earned just 5,885 SkyMiles, 15,369 MQMs and $1,177 MQDs (on the base fare, but not the taxes). But I’ve got Alaska Airlines MVP 75K Gold, so I decided to credit the miles there while I still can, since I would then end up earning 15,952 elite-qualifying miles and a whopping 35,892 award miles from the same itinerary. I used my Chase Sapphire Reserve card to pay for the ticket and earned 3,899 Ultimate Rewards points on top of that thanks to the card’s 3x points travel bonus.
Airport and Lounge(s)
I arrived at Atlanta (ATL) about 10 minutes ahead of schedule, so my layover ended up being just under 90 minutes. That meant, instead of having to book it from a domestic terminal at one end of the enormous airport all the way to the international terminal at the other end, I could take my time and drop by a couple of Delta’s flagship Sky Clubs. At the top of my list was a visit to the newest one in Concourse B, which opened back in September.
Getting there was easy. I took the train that runs between the terminals, went up the escalator, turned left and there it was. Then, simply take the elevator or a flight of stairs up to the third floor where the Sky Club is.
I really liked the luggage-tag wall decorations in the central atrium, pictured below.
The check-in agents seemed confused as to why I was there since my flight was out of the international terminal, but I said I just wanted to check out the new lounge during my layover and they let me in — I had access anyway thanks to my international business-class ticket.
The main section of the lounge is a huge seating area with lots of little sections of chairs and sofas.
There’s also a large bar where you can get house drinks or order premium spirits for a price.
The wine geek in me loved seeing the Enomatic machines on one side of the bar, where you could purchase tastes and whole glasses of various wines selected by Delta’s Master Sommelier, Andrea Robinson.
There was also a buffet with light bites and snacks when I visited around 4:30pm.
Other than that, I liked the way the lounge was set up with lots of discrete little seating arrangements and a ton of light thanks to windows overlooking the tarmacs.
I was especially taken with the high-profile leather chairs because they afforded a lot of privacy if you wanted to work or have a quiet phone conversation without disturbing the other guests.
I didn’t spend too much time in there though — I wanted to get to the international terminal before my flight — so I went back downstairs and hopped back on the airport train.
In another few moments, I emerged in the international terminal and took the escalator up a floor from the main terminal to check out the Sky Club there.
Though it was smaller, I really liked this lounge as well. The check-in agent said, “Where are you headed tonight, Mr. Rosen? Lima! How exciting.” It was just sort of charming.
To the right of the check-in desk was the main seating area with more of those high-profile red chairs, some regular armchairs and a high-top communal table, plus a few workspaces. There’s also a little seating area up another flight of stairs that seemed nice and quiet.
Meanwhile, back on the main floor, the bar was behind the check-in area, and beyond it was another quiet area with some tables and chairs.
The real draw here, though, has to be the outdoor deck overlooking the control tower and tarmac. It has another, smaller bar and was packed to the gills because it was twilight and the temperature was lovely.
I didn’t have too long to plane-gaze since my flight was already boarding. So I downed a caramel-chocolate chip cookie and a glass of lemon-infused water and headed to my gate. Main cabin boarding had already begun by the time I got there, so I just went through the Sky Priority lane and walked right down the jet bridge and onto the plane.
Cabin and Seat
Business class on Delta’s 767-400 is a single, large cabin with 40 seats in all (that’s more than on its 777-200s) arranged in a staggered, front-facing 1–2–1 configuration of 10 rows.
A and D seats in the odd-numbered rows have a large armrest on the aisle (which is the foot cubby of the seat behind it), with the seat itself closer to, but not flush against, the window. I opted for one of those since it meant more isolation from aisle traffic.
The ones situated in the even-numbered rows have a larger armrest by the window while the seat is separated from the aisle by a narrower armrest.
The seats in the center section, meanwhile, sort of shift either to the right or left, with the larger armrests on one side or the other of each seat to accommodate the feet of the passengers seated behind.
Each seat is 21 inches wide, reclines to a fully flat length of between 77-81 inches and has its own power plug and USB port for charging, situated just under a small seat-side reading light.
There’s an overhead light controlled by the same handheld remote that works with the IFE system that’s stowed in the seat’s wider armrest.
The wide armrest also contains the table, which sort of pops and flips out, and can slide forward and backward by a few inches depending on what’s most comfortable. The seat controls are also here and are fairly rudimentary, but still effective. One button controls the seat-back and the other controls the leg rest, while two others maneuver the seat into pre-set positions for lie-flat mode and takeoff/landing.
One of Delta’s signature amenities is the fact that it has partnered with Westin to offer the brand’s Heavenly Bedding, including a fluffy pillow and lightweight duvet, to business-class passengers. I hadn’t experienced these before, and found them to be extremely comfortable.
The bed in lie-flat mode was pretty comfortable, too, though it wasn’t totally totally 180-degrees flat. The seat-back was slightly elevated, but still comfortable.
Now for the negatives. I’m 5’8” and all of 150 pounds or so, and I don’t have huge feet, so I don’t take up a huge amount of room. While I was comfortable sleeping on my back and sides and found the foot space to be sufficient, I can imagine that anyone taller or broader than me might have a few issues with the seat — indeed, TPG himself has mentioned feeling cramped in these particular models on many occasions.
That being said, I found it to be more than adequate and got a solid two hours of uninterrupted sleep thanks to the comfort of the bedding, the separation from the aisle by the large armrest and a thin privacy screen shielding the seat from the aisle.
The other drawback to the seat was the strange lack of storage — there was literally nowhere to put any of your belongings. Sure, you could plug in your phone and leave it on the armrest, but I ended up just shoving my laptop into the little crack between the thin armrest and the seat cushion so I could have it with me in case the seatbelt sign remained on for a while after takeoff.
One more thing to note, the seat is moved by small motors, so you can hear it — and in some cases feel it — when your neighbor is adjusting his or her seat.
In-Flight Entertainment and Amenities
Waiting at my seat, I found noise-cancelling headphones to use with the in-flight entertainment system, which consisted of a seatback-mounted touchscreen (though you can also control it with a handheld remote) showing options from Delta Studio, the airline’s on-demand and streaming entertainment service.
The screens seem pretty outdated and minuscule at this point. To my eye, they measure just 13.3 inches, which, keep in mind, is how big the screens in Delta’s new premium economy are going to be. So this is one respect in which Delta’s international business-class product just doesn’t seem to measure up, not only to international interlopers like the ME3, but also its domestic competitors, who are installing 15-18 inch screens on their current and imminent business-class products. Not to beat Delta up too much about this, though — the carrier’s forthcoming Delta One Suites will have 18-inch screens, so that’ll be a big improvement.
Delta Studio has around 300 movies and 750 television shows, as well as a wide variety of music and video games you can view on the IFE screens or stream to your own devices. There were only about 10 new releases in the movie section though, and I saw about the same number of TV shows, plus a few selections from HBO and Showtime that the airline also offers. The rest all seemed to be in the back catalog.
The plane also offers Gogo Wi-Fi but be aware that your domestic subscriptions won’t work, so you’ll end up paying about $28 for a 24-hour pass. Which isn’t bad if you’re flying on a longer flight like Atlanta-Johannesburg, but it did seem steep for a six-hour flight like this one.
In terms of other amenities, Delta hands out little soft-sided TUMI amenity kits to business-class passengers. Inside are the usual suspects, like ear plugs, striped socks for warmth, mouthwash, a toothbrush with Crest 3D White toothpaste and a TUMI-branded eye mask.
There was also lip balm as well as grapefruit hand and body cream with aloe vera and oatmeal from Kiehl’s. I liked the pen that was included, which I later used to fill out the Peru customs forms.
Food and Beverage
The menus on my flight were created by one of Delta’s celebrity chef partners, Michelle Bernstein, while the wine lists came courtesy of the airline’s Master Sommelier, Andrea Robinson. To start, there were Blackberry Farm black-pepper citrus walnuts and almonds that were pretty savory. I had them with a glass of aromatic Urban uco Torrontés from Argentina.
The appetizers included three dishes: smoked salmon rolls with crème fraiche, dill and micro-greens along with a topping of salmon roe; a plate of roasted root vegetables with Manchego and sunflower-seed vinaigrette; and coconut-lentil soup with chive crème fraiche.
I thought the soup was tasty and fresh and the smoked salmon rolls were a nice, briny way to whet the appetite, but the root vegetables were pretty bland, even with the cheese, and the vinaigrette just tasted like balsamic.
The main courses included coq au vin with mushrooms and egg noodles, pumpkin lasagna with Swiss chard and Fontina, a chilled plate of oak-roasted salmon with hearts of palm and avocado, and five-spice pork tenderloin with rice and stir-fried vegetables. Instead, I opted for the seared short rib with orzo risotto, roasted cremini mushrooms and baby carrots.
Though simple (or maybe because it was simple), I thought the dish was delicious, although the cut of meat seemed more like tenderloin than short rib. It was tender and juicy, the orzo was creamy and the vegetables were not overdone. I stuck with the Argentine wines and paired my meal with a glass of Casillero del Diablo Cabernet-Syrah blend that was full-bodied but not overwhelming.
For the final course, there were several choices. I decided against the selection of cheeses, which were served with fresh fruit and fig compote, and instead got the chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. There were also made-to-order sundaes. I decided to try the cake with a Cálem 10-Year Tawny Port, which was decent but not memorable.
Among the other wines being served were a Gardet Brut Premier Cru Champagne, Calera Central Coast Chardonnay from California and Villa Antinori Toscano Rosso IGT Super Tuscan from Italy.
There was also an extensive selection of spirits and non-alcoholic beverages, plus Heineken, Miller Lite and SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale on the beer section of the menu. The coffee came from Starbucks and tea from Harney & Sons.
Over the next couple of quiet hours, there was a basket of snacks out in the galley, though I didn’t partake. Then, about 70 minutes before landing came the second meal service. The choices were a turkey caprese sandwich on rosemary ciabatta or chicken satay and Asian noodle salad with julienned cucumbers, carrots, red pepper, snow peas and Asian dressing that tasted like soy-ginger to me, since that’s the dish I opted for. Honestly, I probably could have and should have done without the second meal since it was served at about 11:30pm Lima time and we were getting in just in time to go to bed, but I nibbled on it just to have a try and thought it was fresh and flavorful.
I haven’t flown in Delta One business class before, so I had really been looking forward to my experience. On the downside, the seats felt anything but state-of-the-art, and the fact that the carrier’s crammed 40 of them into a single large cabin takes away from the exclusivity of the experience. The seats in lie-flat mode will feel cramped to some as well.
In terms of soft products, I liked the simple-but-complete TUMI amenity kit and the Westin bedding, which was really comfortable. The food was the best I’ve had on a US business-class flight, though not on an international carrier.
The main element I truly appreciated, though, was the crew. Though Delta has probably the best reputation for having friendly flight attendants, it still came as something of a delightful surprise to experience it for myself. The FAs were energetic, friendly, courteous and full of good humor for the whole flight. The food service was efficient but unrushed. Beverages were never left empty. Call button rings were answered quickly. And, in general, the flight attendants managed to walk the fine line of being chummy but solicitous of passengers, so they got high marks from me.
All in all, it was a pleasant experience, and one that was more than worth it for the price I scored on this itinerary.
Have you flown in Delta One lately? Tell us about your experience in the comments, below.
All photos courtesy of the author.
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